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Software Distortions/Overdrives
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Review Software Distortion/Overdrive

Klanghelm SDRR Review

Karma Saturation SKnote, Valhalla DSP, Sonimus… Over the last years, the plug-in world has seen the birth of many "small" independent developers who offer some damn good products. read more…

User reviews on Software Distortion/Overdrive products

Good over-drive, but I have better (Waves - OneKnob Driver)

By Adyssey Beats, 27/06/2012
There were no compatibility issues installing any of the other six One Knob plug-ins, One Knob Driver being no different. The general setup of the plug-in, as with the others, is as simple as it gets. One knob sits in the middle of the display. When you raise the knob an aesthetically pleasing yet quasi-ominous red light indicates the effect's level, also displayed in a number between 0 and 10 in the lower right hand corner. Because of it's simplicity I have never felt the need to read the manual, but I can imagine as with the rest of the Waves plug-ins that it would be well-written and helpful.


Running in Ableton Live 8 on my MacBook Pro with a 2.7Ghz Intel Core i7 processor and 4GBs of RAM, Waves' One Knob Driver is as smooth as clockwork. Being a fairly light plug-in with regards to CPU usage, it is stable and reliable even in situations with many other effects and VSTs operating simultaneously. That said, I do not use the One Knob series too much. This is for the simple fact that they don't offer enough versatility. There is literally one, and only one way to affect the signal. Although easier for producers who may not want to go through the trouble of learning more complex interfaces for over-driving or distorting the signal, is it worth the money? The product can either be purchased as a part of the Waves One Knob package deal, or with the Mercury bundle. If you are really dying the try it, get a much better deal by buy the Mercury bundle and getting the entire library of other top-of-the-line plug-ins that comes with it.


Overall I wasn't totally satisfied with the One Knob series by Waves, but there were some viable pros to help balance the cons. The pros: their simplicity, stability, and superior sound quality. Calling the chaos with this plug-in couldn't have been easier and sounded really great, ripping into the signal and driving it forward in the mix. The cons: lack of versatility in expression, and limited realistic use in a professional production environment. Although there is a One Knob to solve everything, it isn't always the right plug-in to just throw in the mix and crank up, because at the end of the day you don't have the ability to tweak it exactly how you want it. The One Knob Driver, although expressive in its own way, lacks enough flexibility for me to really recommend it as a worthwhile product to invest it, but if you get it as a part of the Mercury bundle I would encourage you to try it out just to know how it sounds. There are certainly great situation where the exact One Knob Driver sound is what you need.

Heads will roll (Soundtoys - Decapitator)

By S2D, 09/09/2014
There has never been such a suitably named plugin as the Soundtoys Decapitator, it really will take your head off with some of the sounds it can give to your tracks. Beginning with the installation, which is quite straight forward as most Soundtoys plugins are, no compatibility issues with Logic Pro 9 at all and when loaded up it is a very clear and engaging interface. The manual is always there for plugins of this nature but for this Soundtoys product i would recommend you just dive straight in and start playing around with the features. The Decapitator has an intuitive GUI and clearly labelled controls apart from the letters along the bottom but we'll get to that part later.


I have been using the Decapitator for almost a year now and can confirm it works perfectly with Logic Pro 9 on a Mac computer with 4GB of RAM on OSX 10.6.8. It is very stable in my experience, no random crashes or anything like that. The performance is very good and is fairly light on CPU usage, although in any given project i can't recall using any more than 3 or 4 instances of the plugin but with no noticeable CPU spikes none the less. Some users may want to put 1 on every channel to get a subtle saturation effect for mixing into which i would recommend if you're CPU can handle it (bear in mind you would likely be using more plugins on top of the decapitators) otherwise try 1 on every sub mix or bus to get a taste of what it can do.

Now, onto the letters at the bottom. Each letter stands for a different saturation type that is based on real analogue consoles and hardware, so you can dial in settings for the other controls then switch between the letters and the effect will change slightly. Much like other plugins who are 'influenced' by real analogue hardware and consoles, they sometimes don't directly disclose what brand they have modelled because it hasn't been officially licensed, although in the Decapitator manual it does describe in some detail the gear that influenced the saturation types.
With the Decapitator, here are what the letters represent according to the manual;

A - Ampex 350 tape drive preamp (think Johnny Cash, Elvis, Sun/Stax/Chess records)
E - EMI TG console (think The Beatles, Pink Floyd)
N - Neve 1057 input channel (very thick low frequency content)
T - Triode (from the Thermionic Culture Vulture hardware unit)
P - Pentode (also from the Thermionic Culture Vulture hardware unit)

The difference between T and P is that T produces even harmonics and P produces odd harmonics.
So with all these different models, it really can be a one-stop-shop for saturation and distortion. As well as all of this, the plugin also features filters for cutting the low end and high end to remove some muddiness and high end fizz that can happen when really going for it with the drive setting. The thump switch is useful for kick drums or the low end of guitars because it adds a few extra decibels to the cut off frequency of the 'low cut' control. The Steep switch transforms a 6db per octave high end filter into a much steeper filter which can be used at a cut off around 4-5khz to simulate a guitar cabinet if desired. The Punish switch (as you can imagine) adds a ridiculous amount of distortion onto what you've already got, plus another 20db's of gain according the manual! If you're having a long day at the office then this switch will definitely perk you up a bit. Make sure to press the auto output switch in conjunction with the punish switch the first few times.


The thing i like most about the Decapitator is it does extreme but in a way that can be actually be used without sounding awful like some distortion plugins. The tone and low end/high end filter controls are very handy as well. Try it on a simple drum loop to hear the effect it has on each part of the kit, changing the letters at the bottom to get an idea of the character of the different hardware models. It is an incredibly useful plugin that can be used in every mix. You can use it sparingly if you wish, but The Decapitator is a lot like Will Smith, he did good just as a rapper but when he got into acting more and pushed the boat out that's when his true talent shone and things really took off... So sit back, max and relax and turn the drive up on this bad boy to really hear what it can do!

Overall, The Soundtoys Decapitator knows how powerful it is. Yes it can do subtle, but with a 'Drive' knob the size of Jupiter and a button that says 'Punish' - you know deep down that this plugin is truly in it's element when it's seriously distorting your audio. A fantastic saturation/distortion plugin with a not-so-fantastic price but still a must have when it comes to producing and mixing so start saving those pennies.

A real magic wand !!! (Klanghelm - IVGI)

By TheJeff666, 31/07/2016
This small freeware is extremely well designed and provides very nice sounds. It’s no less than magical as a mixing tool. I actually don’t use it to saturate sounds but to enhance and isolate instruments within a mix.
I’m currently working on an electro/metal project and I’m a real beginner in metal mixing… So on a same project I can have 2 to 3 oversaturated guitar tracks (downtuned in Bb or dropped D) and an of course equally saturated bass track, all being recorded in my home studio. Of course guitar tracks are often double tracked… And I’m getting worked up with mixing this. Doing all my usual stuff that usually works well on pop / electro / rock (e.g. high- & low-pass filtering, EQing, frequency masking…), I always end up with a mashup sound with mixed saturations, this oversized low-end and the shrieking highs from this ****** Metal Zone that violently destroy both your ears and the mix’s brilliance…
And now, a miracle has happened – I found the IVGI… To give it a try, I cancelled all treatments on my ultra-thrash Bb guitar tracks, put the plugin on… and finally got what I was going for.
The plugin features 5 major controls – trim, drive, output, asym mix and response. Drive goes from barely audible to a nice distorted sound, all very progressive and no high-gain setting. The best part of it are the asym mix and response settings. The first allows to manage the plugin’s dynamics, turning it clockwise giving a natural compression while counter clockwise respects the signal’s synamics. Basically, you get very progressively from the dynamic behaviour of a TS9 to that of a TS808. Finally, the response control allows to choose the frequency band on which the saturation will be applied… and no need for an important drive level, it’s just about adding harmonics to the signal at the selected frequency. The result is a real killer for mixing. A heavy guitar compressed in the low end, the other guitar in dynamic mode in the high-mids, and all of a sudden my mix gets clearer and all instruments find their place naturally, no more mashup – magic, I say!
Another great feat is the VU meter and level controls. It’s recommended to hit the plug at aound 0dB, so in and you adjust the trim then click in/out and see the average in and out level, then aim for 0dB and here you go. Genius!
Finally, the plugin of course sounds very well for saturation too, I used it for such on a DI-recorded bass and the resulting sound is good and very precise.
I have just remixed all guitars and bass tracks from the aforementioned electro/metal project using it, and we’ve reached another dimension in mix quality. It sounds very professional, punchy and clear (ala prodigy metal punk…) and finally now I can hear my electro parts in the middle of all these distorted guitars. I am now going to use it on other sources, can’t wait to try it on vocals… The plugin sounds very well and perfectly respects the original signal.
I love everything in this plugin and no longer could do without it, whatever the project is. Value for money is just huge, it’s a freeware!!! I can’t even understand how such a great thing can be free when you see all the (paid) inefficient and expensive plugins you can find on the VST market.

News Software Distortion/Overdrive

IK Multimedia releases T-RackS Saturator X

Published on 05/17/16
IK Multimedia releases Saturator X, the latest (and first saturation) module in their T-Racks plugin series.

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Get FabFilter's Saturn at half price

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Forums Software Distortion/Overdrive